- for divers, everything's bigger in Baja. The peninsula spans nearly 800 miles from California to Cabo San Lucas, hanging from the Golden State like a long, bony arm. The marine life is bigger here, too, including whale sharks, giant manta rays, dolphins and schools of sharks. The Sea of Cortez contains a microcosm of Pacific marine life, 750 species in all including whales, sharks, mantas and sea lions, and many are endemic.
Three of the main jumping-off points for diving into the action include Cabo San Lucas, Baja's version of Cancun, Cabo Pulmo, home to the only living coral reef in western North America, and La Paz, hub for diving some of the most popular sites in the southern Sea of Cortez.
A handful of islands offshore provide even more thrilling big animal action. The Revillagigedos (including Socorro) afford consistent encounters with sharks, tuna, jacks and lots and lots of mantas, November through May.
One of the most consistent places in North America to cage dive with great whites is Guadalupe, which lies nearly 200 miles off the coast of Ensenada.
Hot, balmy summers with highs in the 90s and pleasant winters, when temperatures range from the 60s at night to 80s during the day.
Mid-80s in summer and mid-60s in winter. The diving is year-round in the Sea of Cortez, but the best time is late June to early November.
Fluctuates from 70 feet in winter to 90 feet in summer.
A passport is required.